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Charles L. Underwood 
20613 110th Street
Westgate, Iowa 50681-8533


Rolfe High School Superintendent of Schools 1959-1965

In the spring of 1959 my friend R.0. Mortensen, outgoing superintendent, began extolling the virtues of the Rolfe school and community to me. Having been a school administrator for eight years, I decided to apply and was selected by the Rolfe board of education. I was privileged to serve there for six years. Following that I was the superintendent of schools at Jesup, Iowa for 21 years.

I was impressed with the quality of education in Rolfe. Student achievement was high, and we inherited outstanding teachers. Among them were: Averil Blewett, Ardis Boyd, Dean Gulbranson, Lois Hodoway, Tom Jones, Paul Nagel, Bob Nielsen, Barbara Olerich, and Chuck Reckard.

The high school principal had already been at Rolfe for 46 years. Please allow me to insert what I wrote for the 1963 Rolfe Centennial History book.

In 1913 the board of education exhibited excellent foresight in employing a home town teacher, who was a graduate of Buena Vista College and who was teaching at Sioux Rapids, to teach English in the high school. This teacher, Miss Edna Marcum, has taught and inspired hundreds of Rolfe High School students including two Rhodes scholars, Virgil Hancher (1914), now President of the State University of Iowa, and Gordon Siefken (1925), who later taught at Southwestern College in Memphis, Tennessee. Miss Marcum has served as high school principal since 1919 and, as this is being written, is enthusiastically preparing for the annual junior-senior banquet and prom and eagerly looking forward to another year of teaching at Rolfe High School. Words cannot express the high regard in which this grand lady is held by this community. No one, excepting the Almighty, can adequately measure her service over the years to the boys and girls of this community.

Her influence was evident in the outstanding academic performance of students, as was the stature of Dr. Virgil Hancher. I was privileged to become a friend in the final years of his life.

It was impressive to see the high student participation in music and dramatics. Athletic involvement was also strong. The 1930's state tournament teams were still an impetus for competitors.

The 1960 reorganization with Des Moines Township, along with staff members leaving, allowed us to bring several teachers aboard. John Dobrovolny, who had previously worked with me, was a successful first priority as was our mutual friend Dan Offenburger. If only they could have been convinced to stay with me another 21 years! Other valuable additions included Wayne Brown, Phil and Beverly Faaborg, Allen Gilbertson, Jack Head, Carla Jones, Lowell Lueck, Keith Maxon, Dr. Hector Ponce, Bob Wesley, and Eugene Elder. Space does not permit inclusion of the many truly dedicated elementary school teachers 1959-65.

Was happy to see some of these teachers and many of the 1959-65 students at Rolfe celebration on July 8, 2000. It was a joy to spend time with the 1961 class members and to visit with Rolfeites at the Lutheran church and later at the gymnasium.

My gratitude goes to all the board members who served during my time in Rolfe - especially to Russ Jordan and Lawrence Turley who were there all six years.

I was also blessed with three competent and pleasant secretaries: Janice Young, Doris Nielsen and Donna Whitmore.

Mrs. Underwood and I forged many friendships in Rolfe through the school, our church, and the community at large. I still cherish fond memories as did Helen until her death in 1994.

Above all, I am most happy to have been a part of the lives of Rolfe students. I have always enjoyed young people, they have been most important to me. Only wish I had another lifetime to give them.

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